ECHOtape CEO Marilyn Edelstein Talks Tape

40 Years of Tape with Marilyn Edelstein | ECHOtape.com

For more than 40 years, ECHOtape has helped companies match their specific application needs with the right tape. Serving industries across North America including manufacturing, building and construction, paper mills and paper converters, the company focuses exclusively on pressure sensitive tape by bringing performance and value-wise solutions to our customers. And we’ve been doing it as a small, family-owned and operated business since 1973 when Stanley Edelstein sold his very first roll of tape.

Today, it’s the company’s matriarch, CEO Marilyn Edelstein, who oversees the company along with her two daughters, Cherie and Risa, ensuring Stanley’s vision and legacy thrives deep into the 21st Century.

Recently, we sat down with Marilyn for a candid conversation about life, legacy and the tape that holds it all together.

What made Stanley Edelstein decide to start a tape company? Who or what inspired the business? Stanley served four years in the U.S. Army, including time spent in Korea in the 1950s.  Upon his return home, to Brooklyn, he went to work with a company who distributed pressure-sensitive tape, the correct name for the assortment of tapes we carry today.  A competitor offered him a position in the same field, but it required a move to Chicago, which is where we made our first home right after we got married. Our first two children were born there!

After a few ups and downs in Chicago, and a stint in Cleveland, Stanley decided that it was time to move to my hometown and birthplace, Montreal.  Everyone thought we were crazy.  Even my family tried to discourage us from moving there because the French language issue was driving young people out of the province. But Stanley took that as a challenge, and never looked back.

Determined to make it work, we moved into my mother’s home — with 3 children now! — and with my full support, Stanley went into business for himself. We worked from home, and really had little expenses other than food and clothing, so the risk seemed minimal. Truth be told, once the excitement of tape gets into your blood, it never leaves.

What was the very first ECHOtape product? To the  best of my knowledge, it was a Polypropylene tape, or basic packaging tape as we know it today. Already well-known in Europe, it was just coming to market in North America as a replacement for gum tape. Stanley and I both felt strongly that we needed to stay ahead of upcoming markets, so we used our savings to attend the largest trade show in the world. We were probably one of the first to introduce polypro to the marketplace.

Tell me a few interesting facts about those first 5 years.  As I mentioned earlier, we felt strongly that trade shows were a necessity, but funds were limited. So Stanley would attend those shows he would have access to by bus. He would take a night bus to his destination, visit the show the day of arrival, and catch the evening bus home.

Stanley was an outstanding sales person, but a poor organizer. So each evening after the children were asleep, we would sit together, go over each call he had made that day, and discuss when he wanted to see that client again. I would create his schedule by dividing the week into 5 territories and fit that client into the appropriate slot.

Our first employee was a college student who came to the house each evening with his Irish Setter dog in a tiny Volkswagen. He would fill his car with the orders that were not in abundance and deliver them the next day.

At one point, Stanley experienced a severe back problem and was confined to bed for six weeks.  Still, that didn’t stop us. He hired one or two sales people at the time, conducting the interviews from his bed. Not customary, true, but we did what we needed to do to survive!

Does the name ECHOtape mean anything? Where did it come from? Actually, the name was created by an agency at the end of the 90s. I remember that we saw it as an “echo” that would reverberate, as an echo would, over the mountains and lakes and out into the world. Hence, ECHOtape.

Who were the first customers? Who supported the business during the early years? Stanley took a personal interest in all his customers; “It’s the American way,” he would say. He never learned the French language, but his approach was novel in the interest and time he gave directly to his clients. Whenever I would ask him how he made the sale to a person who could not speak English he would tell me that it didn’t matter. The product was the language, and he always left with a genuine smile and a firm handshake that spoke volumes. He had many French clients.

Forty years is a long time to be in business. What do you remember most about the company’s growth or change during those decades?  In the 70s, it was all about trade shows and meeting people and getting to know the ins and outs of each customers. These were personal relationships that Stanley built one person at a time.

By the 1980s, we did have other salespeople, but Stanley understood that personal relationships was name of the game. As a company, we showed a great deal of compassion to those in trouble, offering to help with extended payment terms or even working in the factory with our clients to help them keep producing.  We had respect for each customer and they returned it.

The  ‘90s was more of the same, but this was a growth decade for the company.  We hired a lot of staff, and expanded our operations. During this time, we never lost our humility. We worked side-by-side with our employees, extending to them the same courtesies we gave to our customers. This philosophy resonated with them as well as our suppliers, who continued to invest in us, even when there were other options.

The last ten years have been both the most trying and the most successful. Losing Stanley … that’s not something any of us will get over. But his legacy lives on;  he still receives accolades from those who remember him, both personally and professionally. I know our manufacturing and distribution has grown tenfold, but to me, it’s all about family. Our staff always knew the importance we placed on putting families first before anything else. We still share the good and bad with each other. And to this day, we’ve never lost our humility.

What was the single biggest stumbling block to growth? Finding the right people to help us grow.

How has the business evolved?  From distributing any “me too” products to supplying niche and specialty markets. This is where we really shine.  We continue to thrive by tackling adhesive challenges that other companies won’t address. Even if that means developing a niche product.  Stanley always loved getting his hands dirty, and I like to think that we still do to this day.

What does the next 40 years look like?  Steady growth, and a healthy company that never lays off staff because the computer world has replaced the human factor.  Our people are our greatest asset.

Why Air Sealing Garages Really Matters

An attached garage is a nice place to park your car and store your stuff, but it can also be a health hazard. The simple act of starting your car in the morning produces harmful carbon monoxide; gas furnaces,  water heaters, chemicals, fertilizers and paints can all generate harmful fumes. These colorless, odorless, potentially lethal gasses can silently seep into the house via cracks, holes, ductwork and improperly sealed air and vapor barriers.

Traditionally garages weren’t air-sealed for exhaust fumes, but the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code now requires air sealing between the garage and any conditioned space. That said, when it comes to air sealing, the garage still remains problematic, even when the rest of the house is done right.  The High Performance Building Zone at the 2018 Internal Builder’s Show in Orlando dove into the issue, discussing proper practices and techniques for air sealing garages and crawl spaces.  Here’s what you need to know:  Read more

Why Building Resilience is the Future of Sustainable Building

Why Building Resilience is the Future of Sustainable Building | ECHOtapeSuperstorm Sandy. The Phuket Tsunami. The Nepal Earthquake. Super Typhoon Haiyan. Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, and Irma. Whenever and wherever a natural disaster wreaks havoc in the world, sustainability and building resilience, a.k.a. resilient design, becomes the topic of conversation amongst architects, builders, and contractors. Yet the two, while equally important, are not synonyms.

A newsfeed populated with catastrophic images of death and destruction reminds us that while green building is certainly important, CFLs and LEED certification doesn’t matter if a building becomes uninhabitable due to flooding, earthquake or some other disaster. That’s where building resilience comes into play.

Read more

What Will Japan Teach the USA About Homebuilding?

Is the Future of American Homebuilding Japan? | via ECHOtape.comExpect the unexpected. That seems to be the encompassing lesson of 2016 and 2017, two years characterized by listings shortage, surging home prices, catastrophic weather events, stable mortgage rates, and relentless political noise.  And yet while housing analysts continue to obsess over the minutiae, one key trend seemed to escape notice:  The Japanese are coming. Read more

What’s the Difference Between Air Barriers and Vapor Barriers?

Why Air Barriers and Air Sealing Really Matters | ECHOtape

 

Is it an air barrier? Or is it a vapor barrier? Are you sure??  Although both are extremely important components of high-performance buildings, the two are not the same.  With very different functions to perform in the building assembly, understanding the core differences between air barriers and vapor barriers are paramount to building the high performing homes of the future.  Here’s what you need to know.

Read more

Who is the Future of Housing in America?

Understanding Future Demographic Trends | via ECHOtapeAmerica’s changing demographics impact almost every business in the country, creating opportunity for those willing to act. Those who don’t can fall quickly behind. Exciting new businesses, such as Uber and Airbnb, capitalized on these demographic shifts, and similar conditions exist in housing. But with the overwhelming volume of data and opinions out there, how do builders know where to focus their attention?

Well, during a standing-room-only NAHB presentation this spring,  Chris Porter shared his findings on demographic trends and provide clarity for which generations and influences will have the greatest impact in the future of housing. Read more

How to Choose The Right Flashing Tape

Flashing Tapes on the Rise | ECHOtape

Builders have long battled the intrusion of unwanted moisture and air into their structures. Water of any kind is a prime factor in building damage, causing mold, decay, and corrosion responsible for structural durability and health issues. And when it comes to preventing moisture, flashing tape as well as innovative seaming and construction tapes are on the front lines of defense.

This isn’t new information, for contractors, builders or us, tape manufacturers. Thanks in part to new code regulations, construction flashing and seaming tapes are transitioning from “optional” building materials to required products, ones that building professionals are relying on to improve the tightness of the building envelope. Here’s what you need to know.

Read more

5 Home Building Industry Insights To Watch in 2018

With job creation at record levels, unemployment at a 17-year-low, relatively steady interest rates and increased interest from Millennial homebuyers, the International Builders’ Show was awash in a rosy glow. But for home builders, this market is a long way from normal and some experts on the NAHB 2018 Home Building Industry Trend & Analysis panel are saying proceed with caution.  Here are our five top take-aways:

Read more

4 Quick Tests for Tape in the Field

Tape Testing in the Field | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogWe get this question a lot:  How do we actually know that it’s the right tape for the application and that it’s going to last? And that’s totally fair.  Almost everyone we know has a tape failure story, but pressure sensitive tape isn’t the same as what you grew up with, or even what you used five years ago.   BUT… you don’t have to take our word for it. When a customer comes to us with a challenge, we actually test the tape for them and with them.
Read more

Warning: 6 Reasons Not To Use Duct Tape

Duct Tape Alternatives | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blogWe get it:  Duct tape is a versatile tool on virtually any jobsite.  Designed to provide a strong, versatile, quick-stick solution for demanding applications, duct tape is often cited as the top go-to tape for contractors. From surface protection to mold and asbestos remediation to more specialized applications such as masking stucco, its uses are nearly endless.  However, duct tape does have its limits. (Check out the 10 most common surface problems here.) 

Here are the top six conditions where duct tape falls short and what adhesive tape you should be using instead. Read more

The Tape That Stands Up to Stucco

Choosing the Best Stucco Tape for Building & Construction | via ECHOtapeAs a surface material, stucco is renowned for its beauty and versatility. In fact, did you know that every building tradition in human history has used stucco in some way, shape or form? The recipe — usually some combination of cement, lime and fine sand — may have varied, but examples of stucco work occur in Roman architecture as early the 2nd Century AD, in Aztec architecture of Mexico and in 20th Century Mizner architecture of South Florida.  Whether you are  updating ceilings, walls, or stucco exterior,  first choose the right type of stucco and then consider the benefits of contractor grade stucco tape for your next high performance building project.

Read more